Fifth Phase Of West Bengal Polls: A Test For Mamata Banerjee

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Kolkota: Fifth phase of West Bengal Polls, a test for Mamata Banerjee who casts her vote today. Altogether 349 candidates, including 43 women, are trying their luck in today’s election across three districts – Kolkata South, South 24 Parganas and Hooghly. 57 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 1 pm. All eyes are on south Kolkata’s Bhabanipur, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee– seeking re-election — is facing a challenge from Left Front-backed Congress nominee Deepa Dasmunshi and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose of the BJP. Also seeking re-election are state ministers and Trinamool heavyweights Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, city mayor Sovon Chatterjee and Iqbal Ahmed – who were among the leaders allegedly seen accepting bribe in the Narada stingoperation videos. The Trinamool and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are contesting in all the seats in this phase. The Left Front, which has tied up with the Indian National Congress, is in the fray in 37 seats – CPI-M ( 31), All India Forward Bloc (three), Revolutionary Socialist Party (two) and Communist Party of India (one). The Congress has nominated 14 candidates. The combine has lent support to the Nationalist Congress Party in one seat, and is backing an independent in another. In the 2011 assembly polls, the Trinamool had captured 46 seats. The Left Front had won only six – CPI-M (four), and the RSP and the AIFB (one each). The Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist had bagged one. Other prominent candidates in this phase include ministers Arup Biswas and Manish Gupta — both from the Trinamool — and CPI-M state secretariat members Rabin Deb and Sujan Chakraborty. Another star candidate is Abdur Rezzak Mollah, a high-profile minister during the Left Front regime, who is contesting on a Trinamool ticket from Bhangore in South 24 Parganas. Celebrated actress and legislator Debasree Roy is taking on CPI-M heavyweight and former state minister Kanti Ganguly at Raidighi in South 24 Parganas. Voting is taking place under very tight security today – a total of nearly 80,000 personnel of central and state police forces have been deployed across the 53 seats. The poll panel has also ordered imposition of prohibitory orders in all constituencies. Elections have been held in 216 of the 294 constituencies in the state. The remaining 25 will vote in the sixth and final phase on May 5.